"Imperial" Menologion


This manuscript, created in the Byzantine Empire in the second quarter of the 11th century, contains the biographies of saints whom the church commemorates in the month of January. It was originally part of a set containing volumes for each month of the year. A companion volume, with texts for March, now survives in Moscow (State Historical Museum, MS gr. 183). Each chapter in both manuscripts opens with a miniature depicting the death of a respective saint, or less often, another significant event from his or her life. Each text also ends with a seven-line prayer for the well-being of an emperor whose name is spelled by the lines' initial letters, as in, for example, "MIC[H]AEL P." This most probably stands for "Michael, patriarch" and refers to Michael Cerularius, patriarch of Constantinople from 1043 to 1059. When first used, the books were read out in the emperor's presence, probably in one of the numerous chapels of the great imperial palace in Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine, or Eastern Roman, Empire. There are 24 half-page miniatures in the manuscript. A single leaf from the Walters' volume is now kept in Berlin (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Ms. graec. fol. 31). By the 16th century, several folios were missing and paper leaves copied from a Metaphrastian Menologion were added at this time.

Last updated: April 12, 2016